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Grain, Soybean Futures Close Sharply Lower as Dollar Rises, Weather Dries

Prices Decline as Stronger Dollar Equates to Less Demand

Grain and soybean futures closed sharply lower Thursday as the value of the dollar improved amid speculation that the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise interest rates next month, and drier weather allows farmers into fields. 

The Federal Open Market Committee released minutes from its April meeting yesterday that indicated members would be willing to raise the federal funds rate in June as long as economic indicators remain strong. That boosted the value of the dollar, which is at its highest level since March. A stronger greenback cuts purchasing power for overseas buyers and diminishes the appeal of U.S. agricultural products. 

Higher interest rates also increase the cost of borrowing for large-ticket items such as land and equipment. 

Drier weather for the next week will allow farmers to get back into fields that have yet to be seeded. Some 75% of corn and 36% of soybeans were planted as of Sunday, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"Most of the eastern Midwest remains dry until at least next Wednesday," Commodity Weather Group said in a report today. "These showers will also be somewhat light and patchy with broader coverage and larger totals arriving from next Friday."

Prices declined despite dry weather in Brazil that's causing losses for the country's second, or safrinha, corn crop. Conab said the South American country's summer corn crop production will fall 10%. Some rain has made its way into the forecast for next week, which will boost prospects, said Donald Keeney, a senior ag meteorologist at MDA Information Services. 

"Showers in central areas (of Brazil) through early next week will maintain moisture for late growth of slow safrinha corn but will slow soybean harvesting," the forecaster said. "The six- to 10-day outlook is drier in east-central areas."

Corn futures for July delivery tumbled 10½¢ to $3.89 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade.

Wheat futures for July delivery declined 5¼¢ to $10.70 a bushel in Chicago. Kansas City wheat fell 9¢ to $4.47¾ a bushel.

Soybeans finished down but rebounded from intraday lows as soy meal closed higher amid strong demand.

Soybean futures for July delivery fell 5¼¢ to $10.70 a bushel in Chicago after earlier losing more than 20¢. Soy meal jumped $4.80 to $377.50 per short ton, while soy oil lost 0.6¢ to 31.85¢ a pound.

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